Annie Haslam

It Snows in Heaven Too

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It Snows in Heaven Too is almost a contradiction -- it's a somber, melancholy Christmas album. Annie Haslam has a certain unique sadness in her voice that has worked wonders for her for decades. She has made some of the most hauntingly beautiful music of the last 30 years -- but most of it has been about heartbreak, human frailty, even death. Epic stuff. The majority of her work with Renaissance and in her solo career has been based on the prospect of having one of the greatest female vocalists in the world delving into some of the deepest human emotions and experiences. But her voice unquestionably leans towards a definite kind of melancholy, which makes the prospect of a Christmas album from Haslam such a double-edged sword: you know she'll knock the more haunting Christmas classics ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear") out of the park -- but "Ave Maria," "O Holy Night," and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" do not have the angelic spark that you would expect from a vocalist of this caliber. And it's got to be the inherently melancholy voice thing. Think of how jubilant similarly gifted singers have gotten with their own Christmas offerings -- Sarah Brightman, Charlotte Church, Emmy Rossum. Each of their releases captures the uplifting pure power pop essence that is undoubtedly at the heart of a truly great Christmas record. And coming so close on the heels of her ultra-ethereal The Dawn of Ananda, Haslam's own Christmas fare almost feels more new agey than traditional pop. One can't help but wonder what a Christmas album from Haslam would have sounded like had she made it closer to Blessing in Disguise -- before mellowing out to the degree she does on this record. There are a few unusual song choices which are refreshing to hear -- but, all in all, this is not what you'd call an uplifting Christmas album. And from a singer who has seen us through some of the heaviest of musical experiences, it comes as a surprise that when she finally chose to release a Christmas record, it would be one this melancholy and -- ultimately -- this cold.

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